Mirror Image Guitars (Vintage 1987 Dean Z Autograph Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1987 Dean Z Autograph Electric Guitar

If you’d have told me I was going to write an appreciation of a guitar like this Dean Z Autograph—let alone any Korean-made guitar—back in the ‘80s, I probably wouldn’t have laughed outright, but I certainly would have been skeptical. Then again, a good many of us probably couldn’t have imagined people writing books about or paying premium collectible prices for Japanese guitars back in the early ‘70s. Times change and reality and history intervene to challenge our preconceptions!

K-Pop Star Power (Vintage 1987 Cort Star Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1987 Cort Star Electric Guitar

I must admit I don’t really pay much attention to K-Pop (Korean pop music), which I only know exists because there was a story about in on NPR. These Techno song-and-dance groups are apparently manufactured by the government in order to help shape Korea’s public image. No lie. However, when the Korean performer is a guitar and shaped like a five-point (six with the neck) star—and is finished in purpleburst—it lands at the top of my agenda.

T for Two (Vintage 1980’s Peavey T-25 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1980's Peavey T-25 Electric Guitar

Any time you identify a “first,” there’s always some other dude who shows up to spoil the party and own the claim. However, I think it’s safe to assert that the first company to use computer numerical control (CNC) carving machines to build guitars in the U.S. was Peavey Electronics.

Searching for Spock (Vintage 1984 Riverhead Unicorn Electric Guitar)

Riverhead Unicorn Series Guitar Ad

In a Trekkean view of the electric guitar universe, space is populated by all sorts of exotic and unique tribes and creations. You got your Fendermen and Gibsonians and other assorted “normal” beings. Then you have a whole bunch of guitars related to potatoes, like Micro-Frets and Ibanez Musicians, frequently from the 1970s, as it […]

The Softer Side of Hard Rock (Vintage 1986 Kramer Ferrington KFT-1 Acoustic-Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1986 Kramer Ferrington KFT-1 Acoustic-Electric Guitar

It’s funny how history and evolution work. They follow a loosely Hegelian dialectical process of first going one way, then leaping to an opposing pole, and finally ending somewhere in the middle, only to start the process over again. This Kramer Ferrington acoustic-electric reflects one of those dialectical swings that occurred in the mid-1980s.

Ugly Betty (Vintage 1983 Hondo H-2 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1983 Hondo H-2 Electric Guitar

First of all, let me confess that, despite my affinity for electric guitars, I’ve never been much of a rock ‘n’ roller. Truth to tell, I’m more likely to pick up an acoustic guitar or banjo. But I love the “art” of electrics, and they are fun to play, I admit, especially pushed through my old Rat distortion box. But sometimes that “art” goes somewhat awry. At least, in my aesthetic opinion, that’s what happened with the ’83 Hondo H-2 featured here!

Off With Her Head (Vintage 1985 Austin Hatchet Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1985 Austin Hatchet Electric Guitar

As a rule, I’ve never been too enamored of “pop” music, if you define pop as largely vocal-oriented music with catchy melodies and easy-to-remember lyrics, almost always love-themed. So, ordinarily, a pop band like The Police would be off my radar. Still, Andy Summers was able to weave some pretty interesting guitar textures—without traditional flash solos—behind Sting’s singing, so I paid attention. Besides, it was Andy Summers who almost single-handedly created a market for minimalist guitars like this c. 1985 Austin Hatchet.

Hot For Rare Birds (Vintage 1986 Epiphone Firebird 500 Electric Guitar)

Vintage 1986 Epiphone Firebird 500 Electric Guitar

It has always amused me that one of the great tempests in the teapot of guitardom has been the legendary “lawsuit” of the 1970s. You know, when Norlin (aka Gibson) sued Elger (aka Hoshino, aka Ibanez) in 1977 over trademark infringement based upon “copying” Gibson’s headstock design. There are tons of ironies in this story, but one of the most amusing aspects is that companies such as Gibson have been one of the most egregious copyists of its own guitars over the years. Witness the Korean-made Epiphone Firebird 500 seen here.

Back Catalog Memories: Kawai Moonsault Guitar

Kawai Moonsault Guitar (circa 1980s)

One of the most unconventional and impractical body shapes from the electric guitar world, this Kawai Moonsault was a big hit in Japan. Really. The initial production was 1982 and the build quality was superb as Japanese guitar manufacturing had hit its stride in the early 1980’s, many producing better quality guitar than those in USA.